In November, I participated with Dave Fox and Johanna Schiavoni – a couple of splendid San Diego lawyers – in a presentation to an audience of emerging lawyers in D 73 of the HOJ. In anticipation of our presentation, I created a checklist for lawyers to consider. The checklist, as improved upon by Dave and Johanna, is below.
- Know your judge and his/her rules and procedures.
- Know the rules of civil/criminal procedure.
- Join an organization with which your practice area is compatible.
- Develop a mentor/take control of your career.
- Volunteer to be a part of a legal community sponsored project – clean the beaches, feed the elderly, donate blood (yes, these are all sponsored by the legal community).
- Control your firm’s costs.
- Add value to your firm/Initiative.
- Be thankful.
- In your arguments, be simple, tactful, respectful (courtesy of Professor Irving Younger).
- Don’t assume – use your resource materials/Credibility/Form (Forms of Pleading and Practice, Rutter Group).
- Develop an electronic library.
- Prioritize your arguments – best first/fewer better.
- Organize your presentation – if it doesn’t write, it doesn’t work (courtesy of Judge Kevin Enright).
- Establish goals/themes for every case.
- Use CACI/CALCRIM – know your elements.
- Be mindful of your record for appellate purposes.
Many of these principles are nothing more than the evolution of what we learned in grade school – thankful, respectful, responsible, organized, involved, but each fundamentally sound, and all a part of the body of “better practices” in our profession.